Tank Rank: New first on worst list

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Mon Nov 4 19:04:39 UTC 2013

Tank Rank: New first on worst list
With the Suns and Sixers off to surprising starts, it's  bottom's up for 

By _Chad  Ford_ (http://search.espn.go.com/chad-ford/)  |  ESPN.com

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Jared Wickerham/Getty ImagesThe Celtics have moved on from the Big Three 
era and now occupy  the coveted top spot in Tank Rank.
Maybe _Andrew Wiggins_ 
(http://insider.espn.go.com/nbadraft/draft/tracker/player?draftyear=2010&playerId=19900)  is overrated after  all. 
After predicting an all out Tank-pocalypse this season,  our _top two 
tanking suspects_ 
(http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/9887946/nba-tank-rank-how-race-no-1-pick-shapes-up)  -- the Suns and 76ers --  went a combined 
5-1 this week. Still, a week is a week. Last season,  the_Charlotte  Bobcats_ 
(http://espn.go.com/nba/team/_/name/Cha)  started the year with a win over 
the  Pacers and sported a 7-5 record going into Thanksgiving weekend before 
losing 18  straight games and finishing with the second-worst record in the  
In short, games in late October and early November rarely mean  much in the 
larger scheme of things. Here's our weekly look at where the 10  worst 
teams in the NBA stand in their quest for the No. 1 pick in the  draft. 
1. _Boston  Celtics_ (http://espn.go.com/nba/team/_/name/Bos)  | Status: 
Tank-building | Record:  0-3
The Celtics aren't the worst team in the NBA; they're just  playing like it 
right now. One of four winless teams after the first week of the  season, 
Boston looks fairly inept on both ends of the floor and has already lost  to 
two teams that look bound for the lottery, blowing a 16-point halftime lead  
in its home opener versus the Bucks and getting killed on the boards on 
opening  night versus the Raptors. The C's also have the fourth-worst defensive 
 efficiency rating in the NBA despite playing at the slowest pace in the  
league. To top it off, rookie Kelly Olynyk, who the team is very high on,  
has just an 8.64 PER in his first three games. 
Still, I have my doubts the Celtics stay here for long.  They have winnable 
games against the Jazz at home on Wednesday and the Magic on  the road on 
Friday. And at some point, _Rajon Rondo_ 
(http://espn.go.com/nba/player/_/id/3026/rajon-rondo)  is coming back. 
(Last week: 3 ) 
2. _Utah  Jazz_ (http://espn.go.com/nba/team/_/name/Uth)  | Status: 
Tank-building | Record:  0-3
This season's Jazz team was going to be either a  pleasant surprise (if 
their young players took a big step forward) or a major  disaster. It's been a 
little of both so far. The Jazz are 0-3 and one of those  losses came at the 
hands of the _Phoenix  Suns_ (http://espn.go.com/nba/team/_/name/Pho) . 
That's the good news for those in the  Jazz tanking camp. 
But the bad news for those hoping the Jazz score the No.  1 pick in June is 
that the team has played both the Thunder and Rockets pretty  tight and 
_Alec Burks_ (http://espn.go.com/nba/player/_/id/6429/alec-burks) , _Enes 
Kanter_ (http://espn.go.com/nba/player/_/id/6447/enes-kanter) , _Gordon Hayward_ 
(http://espn.go.com/nba/player/_/id/4249/gordon-hayward)  and _Derrick 
Favors_ (http://espn.go.com/nba/player/_/id/4257/derrick-favors)  all look 
improved. Once they get a  point guard running the team, they should start winning 
some games and likely  slide a few spots down this chart. 
(Last week: 7 ) 
3. _Phoenix  Suns_ (http://espn.go.com/nba/team/_/name/Pho)  | Status: 
Tanking | Record:  2-1
Conventional wisdom from Tank Rank last week: "It's hard  to see [the Suns] 
winning a game in the West this year." To which the Suns  responded by 
beating both the Blazers and Jazz to start the season. In those two  games, 
center _Miles Plumlee_ (http://espn.go.com/nba/player/_/id/6616/miles-plumlee)  
played out of his mind, putting up  back-to-back double-doubles. To put that 
into perspective, Plumlee put up just  three double-doubles in his last two 
seasons at Duke. Plumlee was sporting a 24  PER before regressing to the 
mean (0 points, 5 rebounds) in a loss against the  Thunder on Sunday. 
Expect the rest of the team to follow Plumlee's lead  eventually. However, 
with games against a struggling Pelicans team and an even  shakier Nuggets 
team coming up this week, they may yet put another win or two in  the books. 
(Last week: 3 ) 
4. _Charlotte  Bobcats_ (http://espn.go.com/nba/team/_/name/Cha)  | Status: 
Trying | Record:  1-2
Michael Jordan may scoff at tanking, but he might want to  rethink things 
after the Bobcats' shaky start. Although the team squeaked out a  win against 
the Cavs on Friday, that win was sandwiched between two big losses.  A 
13-point loss to the Rockets on the road is understandable, but a 21-point  loss 
to the previously winless Pelicans isn't. 
The Bobcats thought their days of offensive ineptitude were  behind them 
when they landed_Al Jefferson_ 
(http://espn.go.com/nba/player/_/id/2389/al-jefferson) , who has missed  two games with an ankle injury, and _Cody Zeller_ 
(http://espn.go.com/nba/player/_/id/2579258/cody-zeller)  this summer. But 
after three games,  it's the same as it ever was: The Bobcats rank 29th in 
the NBA in offensive  efficiency. 
(Last week: 6 ) 
5. _Orlando  Magic_ (http://espn.go.com/nba/team/_/name/Orl)  | Status: 
Tank-building | Record:  2-2
The Magic got off to a great start in their  "tank-building" quest with 
losses to the Pacers and Timberwolves. But a closer  look should give Magic 
tanking fans a reason to pause -- Orlando was competing  with Indiana until 
Jacque Vaughn benched a red-hot _Andrew Nicholson_ 
(http://espn.go.com/nba/player/_/id/6614/andrew-nicholson)  and pushed the undefeated Wolves into  
overtime on the road. Also, in the Magic's first two homes games, they blew out  
the Pelicans and Nets with a 20.5 average margin of victory. 
Orlando is right in the middle of the pack in both  offensive and defensive 
efficiency. No wonder _word came to Marc Stein_ 
(http://espn.go.com/blog/marc-stein/post/_/id/14/jameer-nelson-next-big-name-to-be-dealt)  this week 
that _Jameer Nelson_ (http://espn.go.com/nba/player/_/id/2439/jameer-nelson)  
is on the block. 
(Last week: 4 ) 
6. _Philadelphia 76ers_ (http://espn.go.com/nba/team/_/name/Phi)  | Status: 
Tanking? | Record:  3-0
Either Sixers GM Sam Hinkie forgot to tell his coach and  players that they 
weren't supposed to win this season or he's a mad, analytical  genius. The 
Sixers have four real NBA players on their roster. That's it. But  somehow 
they've defeated the _Miami  Heat_ (http://espn.go.com/nba/team/_/name/Mia)  
and _Chicago  Bulls_ (http://espn.go.com/nba/team/_/name/Chi)  at home and 
the_Washington  Wizards_ (http://espn.go.com/nba/team/_/name/Was)  on the 
Michael Carter-Williams is sporting an incredible 29.5  PER in his first 
three games as a pro and is the early front-runner for the  Rookie of the Year 
award; _Spencer Hawes_ 
(http://espn.go.com/nba/player/_/id/3211/spencer-hawes)  is putting up an even more ridiculous  30 PER. _Evan Turner_ 
(http://espn.go.com/nba/player/_/id/4239/evan-turner)  is finally playing like a 
former No. 2  pick, and_Thaddeus Young_ 
(http://espn.go.com/nba/player/_/id/3244/thaddeus-young)  is doing it all. Thanks to those four,  the Sixers rank 
third in the league in effective field goal percentage. The rest  of the team 
is predictably awful and every NBA GM I have spoken to thinks  they'll come 
back down to Earth. 
(Last week: 2 ) 
7. _Sacramento  Kings_ (http://espn.go.com/nba/team/_/name/Sac)  | Status: 
Rebuilding | Record:  1-2
Copy + paste. This Kings team looks virtually identical to the  team that 
won 28 games last season, with an opening-night win against a  struggling 
Nuggets team followed by losses to the Warriors and Clippers. They  have the 
capability of eking out wins against other mediocre teams, but with  offensive 
and defensive efficiency ratings in the 20s, this team appears  destined 
for yet another middling lottery pick. 
(Last week: 5 ) 
8. _Washington Wizards_ 
(http://espn.go.com/nba/team/_/name/wsh/washington-wizards)  | Status: Trying | Record:  0-3
The Wizards made a big trade for _Marcin Gortat_ 
(http://espn.go.com/nba/player/_/id/2758/marcin-gortat)  prior to the season in an attempt to  make a 
serious playoff push in the East, but so far they've come up empty with  
losses to the Pistons, Heat and Sixers. The Wizards are playing at the  
10th-fastest pace in the league, but their defense is suffering for it --  they're 
giving up 108.3 points per game (second worst in the  NBA). 
While they have no intention of tanking this season, if the  losses pile 
up, it's not out of the question the Wiz will try to see if they can  find a 
new home for Nene and add another young player (preferably a big) to the  
(Last week: Not ranked ) 
9. _Denver  Nuggets_ (http://espn.go.com/nba/team/_/name/Den)  | Status: 
Trying | Record:  0-2
Now that Masai Ujiri, George Karl and _Andre Iguodala_ 
(http://espn.go.com/nba/player/_/id/2386/andre-iguodala)  are gone, last season's 57-win team  
seems like a distant memory. This Denver team is shooting under 40 percent 
from  the field so far. The only upside is it ranks third in the NBA in 
rebounds per  game. 
The Nuggets have already lost to the Kings and Blazers -- two  teams that 
will struggle to reach the playoffs in the West -- and the Spurs are  coming 
up next. 
(Last week: Not ranked ) 
10. _Milwaukee  Bucks_ (http://espn.go.com/nba/team/_/name/Mil)  | Status: 
Trying | Record:  1-2
An injury to _Brandon Knight_ 
(http://espn.go.com/nba/player/_/id/6448/brandon-knight)  and a slow start for _Larry Sanders_ 
(http://espn.go.com/nba/player/_/id/4265/larry-sanders)  have the Bucks struggling. They rank  last in 
the NBA in rebounding rate, have already lost to the Knicks and Raptors  
and would be 0-3 if it weren't for a ferocious second-half comeback against 
the  Celtics. 
A healthy Knight should make a difference for Milwaukee, but  as of right 
now, the Bucks look like they might stay on this list all  season. 
(Last week: 10 )

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